A Louisiana couple on Monday pleaded no contest to reduced charges of manslaughter in the death of their daughter who was found “melted” into a sofa covered in maggots and human waste.
The emaciated remains of Lacey Fletcher, 36, were found at her family’s home in Slaughter in January 2022. The room in which she was found stank of feces and urine, and the floor was buckling as a result of the pooling waste beneath the sofa, according to sources cited by WBRZ-TV.
Sheila and Clay Fletcher, both 66, had previously denied charges of second-degree murder. East Feliciana District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said his office intends to seek a maximum sentence of 40 years, according to The Advocate.
East Feliciana Coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham described Lacey Fletcher—who had been diagnosed with autism—as having “melted” into the couch, while a forensic pathologist’s autopsy report cited by the Daily Mail said she had developed a chronic bone infection and was covered in ulcers, with fibers most likely from the sofa and maggots embedded “in the exposed surface of the bones.”
It reportedly added that she had become infested with maggots while still alive and that she had fecal matter in several places around her body, and that her death was ultimately caused by sepsis caused by medical conditions resulting from “poor hygiene, prolonged immobility and malnutrition as a result of severe chronic neglect of a special needs individual.”
The coroner’s office separately determined that starvation was a factor in Lacey’s death, with her weighing just 96 pounds when her body was discovered.
“The Fletchers are pleading no contest to the new charges. They had no choice,” D’Aquilla told the Daily Mail. “This is an open and shut case—they allowed their daughter to suffer unbearably on that couch.”
Steven Moore, the couple’s defense attorney, insisted Monday that his clients had never meant to harm their daughter. “They were negligent, yes,” Moore said. “It is clear they were negligent. They loved her to death, and that is the true statement of what the Fletchers are,” Moore said.